Snowboarding in Powder: 6 Tips on How to Ride Deep SnowPublished on 08/12/2023 · 7 min readSnowboarding in powder is arguably one of the greatest experiences on planet earth. Here are some tips to get you snorkeling through it like a pro.
Photo by Wlad Go
Snowboarding in powder (a.k.a surfing POW) is arguably one of the greatest experiences on planet earth. Ask almost any snowboarder and they will tell you their best day was on a powder day. The sensation is so unique, and to help you make the most out of your next storm cycle, I’ve compiled a list of my top tips to improve your powder riding.
1. The Right Board
In order to find the right powder board, it needs to have the right profile. By this, I am referring to the curvature on the bottom of the board, the two main types being camber and rocker. You want to ride a full rocker or hybrid rocker camber.
The rocker is going to place the tip and nose of the board higher than the center, which allows the snow to naturally push the nose up, allowing you to stay on top of the snow. This added float stops the dreaded back leg burn, and helps hold high speeds.
A hybrid camber profile incorporates all of the advantages of the rocker’s floatation, while keeping the classic camber in the middle. The camber puts more pressure on the tip and tail of the board. This helps when coming across hard-packed snow or maneuvering through tight trees. Generally, full rocker or hybrid rocker/camber profiles are more beginner friendly. Full traditional camber boards will feel more snappy than flexy and are just not quite as efficient and fun in deep pow.
The second part of the board profile is the size of the tail and the nose, among a variety of board shapes. Snowboards that are “powder specific” are going to have a wider and longer nose, most of them with increased surface area helping you to stay on top of the snow. This aids with keeping the nose of the board afloat. Likewise, these “powder-specific” boards have a narrower and shorter tail. This allows the tail to sink into the snow, again, helping the nose float above the snow. Notice the trend here? Powder snowboards (directional boards and other deep-snow-specific boards) are truly going to be a great investment if you get out on a lot of powder days.
For more information on how to buy a powder board, check out the video below:
Now, I know this can all get a little bit overwhelming. If you have any questions, from finding the perfect gear to figuring out what you're doing wrong while riding, or if you simply just want someone to share the stoke with, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Snowboarding Experts here on Curated. We can chat one-on-one and I’ll be happy to answer any and all of your questions.
Changing the stance on your board is one of the biggest keys to stopping the back leg burn. In order to naturally shift the weight of your upper body over the back of the board and get that ideal weight distribution, you're going to want to move your front foot and back foot closer to the tail. This arrangement is often known as a “set back stance.” This will allow for your body weight to naturally make the tail of your board sink, while simultaneously allowing the nose of your board float. This is especially important for when you're riding deep, fresh powder.
Maintaining Your Speed Is Key
When riding in powder, snow will naturally billow out from the sides of your board, creating friction as you ride. Always remember, when riding deep powder, speed is your friend! The fastest you are going to be able to travel down a slope is by riding straight down it (down the fall line but not across it), without turning much at all (called an open turn). Because of this, the size of your turn is going to be based on how steep the terrain is. The tighter the turn, the more you will slow down. If you find you need to slow down to avoid an obstacle or another reason, use a closed turn where you fully cross the fall line for every turn.
How to Make a Powder Turn
If you do not know how to make a powder turn, you’re in luck! Turning in powder is a very easy process. It’s all about leaning when you turn.
- Simply lean over your toeside or heel-side edge and the board will follow.
- Twist your shoulders in the direction you want to turn and you're off!
- Keeping your back leg bent will help aid in applying extra weight to your backfoot.
Because you are floating on top of a powdery cloud instead of hard packed snow, there isn’t the need to dig in with the edge of your snowboard. If you have ever surfed, you will be familiar with this edgeless type of turn. If not, when leaning into your turn, you're going to want to kick your back foot out and back, in a pumping motion. This allows your board to glide across the snow, being propelled out of the turn through the tail instead of the edges.
Finding a Rhythm
Creating a rhythm with your turns will allow for your momentum to carry you up and out of a turn if you happen to sink too deep. Lifting your knees towards your chest a little bit will also help pull your board up into the next turn.
Spraying Clouds of Snow
If you're looking to make a large cloud of snow blow up in the air, you are going to want to do it on your heel side turn, really digging in your heel edge for the full effect.
- When engaging into your turn, make sure to lean back extra heavy on your back foot, then just go for a classic slide stop.
- Sticking your back foot out forwards, digging it into the snow as you twist your hips, moving the whole board sideways.
- Keeping your weight leaning back will stop you from flying head over heels.
Even if you do fall, don’t worry, falling in powder is like falling into a foam pit! Just don’t hold your skid for too long when you're going for the “cold smoke” cloud because it can kill your speed completely.
4. Understand Your Terrain
This is key for any time you are riding a snowboard. However, this is especially important for riding powder. Make sure your run is steep enough for you to ride it out. The misery of learning how to ride powder is when having to unstrap and hike in waist deep snow. You will be sweaty and your legs will be on fire! So in order for us to avoid this we need to pick our terrain wisely. Always take the high ridge. If you're traversing across a snowfield, navigating through the woods, or riding out a gully, staying as high up as you can on the slope will help you avoid getting stuck in a flat section.
5. Know Before You Go!
Even if you’re riding side country within resort boundaries, snow safety is essential. Make sure you’re aware of the current avalanche dangers and always ride with a friend. If you expect to spend the majority of your season riding powder, you should take an AIARE Avalanche rescue course. Although avalanches within resort boundaries are not common, emergencies can happen. All riders and skiers should have basic safety knowledge and be aware of conditions before going out for the day. Powder snowboarding can be considerably more dangerous than regular riding, so make sure you're as safe as possible (buddy system, knowing terrain features, the right gear, etc).
6. Most Importantly, HAVE FUN!!
Snowboarding in powder is what dreams are made of. People spend their whole lives obsessing over it. Some of us can never get enough. So when you have it, make sure to enjoy it because I guarantee those will be the days you’ll always remember.
If you are looking to find the right gear for your next powder day, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Snowboarding Experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations.